Me & Mumford Take on Maine

My best-friend moved to Maine at the beginning of the summer. She lives, with her husband and son, just outside of Portland. Her best description of it sounded something like this: “I don’t know why you don’t live here… Everyone has a dog and is outside all the time.” So when I got an email from the Mumford & Sons website a few months back announcing the Gentlemen of the Road Tour — and I saw that one of the stopovers was in Portland — I immediately emailed Allison and told her I would be buying tickets and that I hoped she could go with me.

Jump to this weekend, I headed up to Maine to visit with my friend — who I hadn’t seen since May — check out a city I’d never been to, and see one of my favorite bands (which I’ve been trying to see for years). As it turned out, the venue for the Portland Stopover turned out to be unbelievably awesome. The concert was on Portland’s Eastern Promenade, which rolls gently down to the water. So the backdrop behind the stage was of beautiful water, boats, and islands.

Not too shabby! Continue reading

Vignettes from the Train

FullyFunctnlPhil, Flickr Creative Commons

Monday evening I caught an Amtrak train in Hartford and started my journey down to New York’s Penn Station. I also happened to be reading Wally Lamb’s The Hour I First Believed, which has a whole chapter focused on a train ride from New Haven to Hartford for the dedication of Hartford’s Memorial Arch in Bushnell Park. I’m sure that the beautiful old brownstone train station was quite a sight in those days.  Continue reading

Some Practical Advice for Perma-Campers

The lap of luxury for a perma-camper. (From dave_7, Flickr Creative Commons.)

I heard a story on NPR the other day about NPR’s perma-campers. What’s a perma-camper you ask? Well, it’s someone who exists in the nebulous place between having a roof over your head and the homeless. Here’s an example:

Some of them are old-timers, but there’s also a wave of newcomers and younger people, like Marcus Featherston, a 20-something who lives in a Ford Econoline van.

Featherston’s van has a fold-out couch, a miniature sink and a fridge running on batteries. He moved into the van last year, after losing a couple of jobs.

“It was kind of either food or rent, and I ended up selling a car that I had and moving into the van and deciding to go to school,” Featherston says. “[The decision] was kind of freeing, to be honest.”

When I start to ponder the plight of the perma-campers, I keep thinking about the RV-couple from Into the Wild. You remember them right? The hippies who live in their RV, making a living by selling old books at flea markets and the like. To be honest, I kind of wanted to be them after seeing that movie so I can see how Featherston would find the move into his van freeing. Someday, when I retire, I’d like to hop in a camper and drive around  the country. In fact, I’ve given this quite a bit of thought (as did my friend and her boyfriend, who quite their jobs last year and spent several months traveling the country in an RV and shooting videos about it for American Odyssey.tv). Continue reading

State Swap

I enjoyed Knoxville immensely. Not so sure it felt the same way about me.

Despite United Airlines best attempts to keep me in Washington D.C., I got back from a trip to Tennessee yesterday. My friend Melissa and I went to The Volunteer State with our usual intentions: to make friends with locals, and get outside of our liberal enclaves and see something different. People are almost always baffled by this desire to visit what you might call The Middle-of-Nowhere. People at home, and in the towns we visit, can’t understand why we would want to visit these places.

With all the TravelZoo deals in our inboxes, you’d think we’d be spending our precious vacation time in Jamaica. But the couple of days we spent in Los Banos, CA still stands as one of my favorite trips of all time. The people there were so kind and  gracious to us that we still send them postcards any time we head out on another trip — and at Christmas. Tennessee was an altogether different experience though. Continue reading

Ode to autumn…or fall…or whatever…

I always get reflective at this time of year. New England in September is, in my opinion, just about the most beautiful place on earth. The weather is as close to perfect as it gets: country fairs abound, farms scam you into picking their produce for them, and if you’re me you head down to the Old Cider Mill to stuff your face with apple fritters.

Usually, my friends, family, and the occasional blog reader are the only ones who have to listen to me wax poetic about my favorite season. This year, though, I got to harass WNPR listeners with my thoughts about sweaters and my beloved fritters thanks to my pals at the Colin McEnroe Show.

The Great American Roadtrip(s)

When I was a kid my grandparents would take my cousin and I on car trips all over the country. We drove from Connecticut to Texas, Wyoming, and Florida (more times than I can remember). But there are still places in this lovely country that I haven’t seen–or don’t remember seeing. So, last summer after a weekend roadtrip to Vermont with my friend, she and I decided to make a habit of it.

Yosemite Valley

Our next trip was in Novemeber; I was going to San Jose, CA for work so we flew out to San Francisco a few days ahead of time and drove down to Yosemite National Park. One of the things I love about America — well, all of North America, really — is just how vast and diverse it is. When you spend your life in New England, you get used to rolling hills, lush greens, autumn colors, and the occasional small mountains…and then you show up in a place like Yosemite and you can’t help but be awe struck. Continue reading